Patterico's Pontifications

3/25/2011

Fresh Fears and Evacuations in Japan

Filed under: General — Aaron Worthing @ 12:49 pm



[Guest post by Aaron Worthing; if you have tips, please send them here.  Or by Twitter @AaronWorthing.]

Watching events from afar, the Earthquake/Tsunami/Nuclear Meltdown trifecta in Japan really strikes me as like a natural disaster version of 9-11.  In the immediate aftermath it was horror in slow motion, but then even after you thought things should have been over, it turns out it wasn’t.  I remember an international friend being shocked when I mentioned in an email some three months later that they were still pulling bodies out of the rubble at the World Trade Center.  And some two weeks later, things are still pretty bad in Fukushima, Japan:

Japanese officials on Friday began quietly encouraging people to evacuate a larger swath of territory around the Fukushima Daiichi nuclear plant, a sign that they hold little hope that the crippled facility will soon be brought under control.

The authorities said they would now assist people who want to leave the area from 12 to 19 miles outside the crippled plant and said they were now encouraging “voluntary evacuation” from the area. Those people had been advised March 15 to remain indoors, while those within a 12-mile radius of the plant had been ordered to evacuate.

The United States has recommended that its citizens stay at least 50 miles away from the plant.

Speaking to a national audience in a press conference Friday night to mark the two weeks since the magnitude 9.0 quake and the devastating tsunami that followed it, Prime Minister Naoto Kan dodged a reporter’s question about whether the government was ordering a full evacuation, saying officials were simply following the recommendation of the Japan Nuclear Safety Commission.In the latest setback to the effort to contain the nuclear crisis, evidence emerged that the reactor vessel of the No. 3 unit may have been damaged, an official said Friday. The development, described at a news conference by Hidehiko Nishiyama, deputy director-general of the Japan Nuclear and Industrial Safety Agency, raises the possibility that radiation from the mox fuel in the reactor — a combination of uranium and plutonium — could be released.

One sign that a breach may have occurred in the reactor vessel, Mr. Nishiyama said, took place on Thursday when three workers who were trying to connect an electrical cable to a pump in a turbine building next to the reactor were injured when they stepped into water that was found to be significantly more radioactive than normal in a reactor.

Read the whole thing.

[Posted and authored by Aaron Worthing.]

30 Responses to “Fresh Fears and Evacuations in Japan”

  1. I still think the evacuation order is a sign of an overly risk-averse bureaucracy, and that people with habitable homes and adequate sources of food are better off staying home. The bureaucrats don’t care what happens to the evacuees, what sort of life they can lead at the camps that they’d end up in, or what will happen to their houses in their absence; they don’t even care if the evacuees get killed in a car crash on their way out. All they care about is that they not be blamed if the residents stay home and end up getting cancer or something; therefore no matter how small the risk of that is, they’d rather avoid it since the cost of doing so doesn’t rest on them at all.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  2. milhouse

    you might be right. i hope you are. but i get more the feeling that they know it is worse than they are telling us.

    Aaron Worthing (e7d72e)

  3. Even if it’s as bad as it can possibly get, residents are probably better off staying at home with the windows shut and a supply of food and water, than going to an evacuation centre.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  4. the important thing is everybody needs to have a positive attitude

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  5. there is no I in radiation

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  6. Milhouse,

    3 had flooding, serious scary problems before 2006, was shut down for some time, also reading 10,000 times normal levels spikes offshore Tokyo…

    EricPWJohnson (c88554)

  7. 3 had flooding, serious scary problems before 2006, was shut down for some time, also reading 10,000 times normal levels spikes offshore Tokyo…

    And therefore? How does any of that make it a better idea to leave home than to stay? What’s the absolute worst that could possibly happen if you stay home, provided that you have adequate food, water, and heat (which I forgot to mention earlier)? The downsides of evacuating are many and obvious, and I don’t see a good enough justification for it even if the authorities are lying through their teeth.

    Milhouse (ea66e3)

  8. Epwj – when will Mothra arrive?

    JD (318f81)

  9. Mr Feets, I know what you are thinking. You want to send a Hallmark card to the whole Japanese nation to make them feel better.

    elissa (30948a)

  10. yes cause of when you care enough to send the very best it says a lot about how you feel elissa

    happyfeet (a55ba0)

  11. The left to ratchet up their anti-nuke hysteria.

    DohBiden (984d23)

  12. Sounds like the workers that got soaked are pretty well screwed.

    Bad scene.

    The guys that are going in to work on the reactors got some stones, if you ask me.

    Dave Surls (509777)

  13. We’re still talking about doses that are many orders of magnitude below that which would actually cause any symptoms of radiation sickness.

    http://xkcd.com/radiation/

    SPQR (26be8b)

  14. the nuke workers don’t have any stones left. those got cooked long ago. i mean, they are still hangin but they’ve been poached. dead lil swimmers in there. mine shriveled up after Boss Man got popped in that theater some years back and the party ended. i might as well be Japanese.

    Pee Wee Herman's Tool (9d8f8b)

  15. “We’re still talking about doses that are many orders of magnitude below that which would actually cause any symptoms of radiation sickness.”

    According to that NYT article, it sounded like a couple of the workers got a big old dose.

    “The National Institute of Radiological Sciences said that the radioactivity of the water that the three workers had stepped into was 10,000 times the level normally seen in coolant water at the plant. It said that the amount of radiation the workers were thought to have been exposed to in the water was two to six sieverts.”

    “Even two sieverts is eight times the new 250-millisievert annual exposure limit set for workers at Daiichi in the days after the disaster; the previous limit was 100. Tokyo Electric officials said that water with an equally high radiation level had been found in the Reactor No. 1 building, The Associated Press reported.”

    “Skin exposures of two to six sieverts will cause severe burns, according to Dr. David J. Brenner, director of the Center for Radiological Research at Columbia University. But if those doses reach the whole body and not just the skin “you’re at a very high risk of dying,” he said.”

    That doesn’t sound so good.

    Dave Surls (509777)

  16. “the workers were thought to have been exposed to in the water was two to six sieverts” The XKCD chart shows:

    2 Sv = Severe, some cases fatal
    4 Sv = Extremely severe, survival sometimes possible
    8 Sv = Fatal, even with treatment

    Whatver happened to rads, anyway?

    gp (1330f9)

  17. Um, I mean whatever happened to rems.

    gp (1330f9)

  18. No, two to six sieverts is not good. That’s a level of radiation that threatens serious injury or worse, depending on exactly how the exposure occurs.

    But that is refering to a couple of the workers in the plant itself. That’s not the kind of exposure that surrounding residents are subject to.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  19. “The guys that are going in to work on the reactors got some stones” Amen. They had some fearless responders at Chernobyl too IIRC, guys standing on a wall overlooking the exposed pile, pouring water in.

    gp (1330f9)

  20. gp, the “rem” did not tell you anything about the effects on the body. A “Sievert” is an absorbed exposure.

    SPQR (26be8b)

  21. Comment by Milhouse — 3/25/2011 @ 1:35 pm
    I would think food and water may be running rather low in that area. Leaving out actual damage from the earthquake and tsunami, what stores are going to be open and who would be making deliveries in that area?

    (If there is food and water available, I think you’re right.)

    kishnevi (60aae7)

  22. My…

    The two who were exposed to activated water and water borne contamination were exposed to less than the current working max for that incident. They were hospitalized for observation over concerns that they might develop burns from direct beta exposure of their feet and lower legs. No word yet on the results of the observation which tends to indicate it was a laudable excess of caution.

    REM, by the way, are Roentgen Equivalent Man doses and are all about the health and physiological effects. They tend to correlate closely for most alpha, gamma exposure and are only off grossly in terms of Roentgen for Neutron exposure (as in an order of magnitude).

    The folks working to stabilize and remediate the situation are being closely monitored. There will be lots of opportunity for exposure in the remaining containment and clean up, but the alarmists are just that, alarmists.

    Rodney G. Graves (f12db5)

  23. “The two who were exposed to activated water and water borne contamination were exposed to less than the current working max for that incident.”

    You could be right, for all I know, but that isn’t what the linked article says.

    Unless, I’m misreading it.

    Dave Surls (ff2147)

  24. So can we at least say brave men are doing a job that needs to be done. There may be women, also, I don’t know.

    Also, can we acknowledge the brave and unnoticed rescuers who are dealing with the after-effects of a monumental earthquake and tsunami that has killed thousands?

    Additionally, can we finally put to bed the Hollywood notion that good and decent people revert to animalistic instincts in the face of disaster?

    Ag80 (efea1d)

  25. here for so they don’t have to touch the deadly waters

    happyfeet (ab5779)

  26. can we finally put to bed the Hollywood notion that good and decent people revert to animalistic instincts in the face of disaster?

    But then we wouldn’t rely on nanny government to protect us and tell us where to go and what to do. We might even try to take care of ourselves and neighbors some more, and even resist a bigger government.

    Anyone read about that man who swam to rescue his wife, and a few days later swam to rescue his mother? I’m sure Japan has seen tremendous heroism. I think they will recover stronger than ever before, with a renewed sense of community and values.

    Dustin (c16eca)

  27. Ag80,

    I don’t believe women are allowed to work around ionizing radiation (at least there weren’t when I was doing such years ago). Thec reasoning, as I recall, was that they are born with all the ova they will ever have…

    Rodney G. Graves (f12db5)

  28. Rodney – Woman are allowed to work in the nuclear industry and around radiation. Woman who are pregnant or have “announced they are planning to become pregnant” have restricted dosage rates.

    Have Blue (854a6e)

  29. the question nobody seems to be asking…the giant pink elephant in the room nobody seems to see….was asked/pointed out some…oh…some 10 DAYS ago over at ‘zerohedge’.

    temperatures. inside the buildings, in the (almost-certainly empty) rod-storage pools, in the (almost-certainly-breached) reactors themselves….how hot is it out there? knowing that would provide a foundation to make a reasonable assumption as to how ‘hot’ it is, rad-wise.

    but, interestingly, nobody seems to be doing thermal flyovers. (well, they ARE, but the results aren’t being mentioned.) and none of the media seem to have thought about this enough to ask about it. (well, they HAVE, but they were told not to ask.)

    el coronado (d8f993)

  30. I do love the manner in which you have presented this particular challenge plus it does give me a lot of fodder for thought. However, coming from what precisely I have personally seen, I simply just hope when the responses pile on that folks remain on issue and not embark on a tirade of the news of the day. Yet, thank you for this fantastic piece and while I do not necessarily go along with it in totality, I value your viewpoint.

    Filmy Online bez limitu (53a6af)


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